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Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Kiper projects six B1G players in first round

By Adam Rittenberg

The Big Ten had six players selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft, doubling its total from 2010.

Colleague Mel Kiper Jr. forecasts a repeat performance for the league in April.

Kiper's latest mock draft Insider features six Big Ten players in the first round of the draft.

They are:

No. 9 (Miami): Riley Reiff, LT, Iowa

Kiper writes that Reiff looked excellent on film during the 2011 season and could be an immediate answer at right tackle. Reiff could fill out what looks like a solid offensive line in Miami.

No. 19 (Chicago): Mike Adams, LT, Ohio State

Kiper writes that Adams has changed his opinion over time because of the way he protects the pocket. As a Bears fan, I'd rather see them take a wide receiver, but the offensive line needs help, too, as the J'Marcus Webb experiment isn't going well.

No. 20 (Tennessee): Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

Kiper writes that Mercilus is a pure passer who could improve his stock at the NFL combine and rise higher in the draft. Tennessee needs to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks after finishing 31st in the NFL in sacks last season.

No. 25 (Denver): Devon Still, DT, Penn State

Kiper writes that the Broncos need more depth on the interior line and that Still fits in well with the defensive scheme. It wouldn't surprise me to see Still go a little higher than this, but Denver seems like a good spot.

No. 26 (Houston): Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

The Texans hit the jackpot with a Big Ten defensive lineman (Wisconsin's J.J. Watt) in the first round of the 2011 draft. They could add depth up front with Worthy, who Kiper writes "has a really good burst for his size, allowing him to penetrate and be really disruptive against both the run and the pass."

No. 29 (Baltimore): Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

Kiper writes that the Ravens need a replacement for Matt Birk, and Konz is the best center in the draft. While I haven't seen Konz projected in the first round in too many places, he left Wisconsin after receiving a strong draft evaluation and can help himself at the combine.

Thoughts on the six Big Ten players? Any snubs?